Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Transhumans, tweets, games without frontiers, and the joys of turning in your fellow citizens

Time for another collection of items that caught my attention recently because of their connection to aspects of WoyUbu:

This hourlong episode of the public radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge devoted to computers is a must for anyone interested in the ramifications of techno-culture. I recommend the interviews with Lawrence Lessig, one of the founders of Creative Commons, on copyright issues raised by mash-ups and other digital art; Sherry Turkle of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self on the ways in which we are developing relationships with personal robotic devices; and sociologist James Hughes, executive director of the World Transhumanist Association, on the quest to merge human flesh with computer technology in search of immortality and/or "transhuman" interspecies breeding; plus a couple of quick mash-ups by GirlTalk and DJ Spooky. But the real treat for Ubu-ites is surely the segment on video game designer Jason Rohrer; I have no idea how well known he is among those in the know, but his work sounds pretty remarkable and far beyond the average computer game. (Here's Passage, about mortality, and Between, a game about dreams and "stale evidence" of the Other. And here's Rohrer's homepage, which contains links to more games and all kinds of other stuff.)

•Much of what Rohrer says about games is echoed in intriguing ways in this brief segment from another public radio show on Peg Tyre's book The Trouble with Boys, and specifically its take on violent fantasy in video games (like the one in our Ubu). In a nutshell, Tyre argues that such games can potentially serve a beneficial role as an outlet for natural tendencies. She, like Rohrer, has much to say about the essence of "play" in the lives of both adults and children.

This is the funniest (and smartest) thing I've ever encountered about the phenomenon of Twitter and Facebook status udpates. Three cheers for Brian Unger!

•Finally, courtesy of BoingBoing, an ad campaign from the London police urging citizens to report suspicious activity:

Cory Doctorow notes the "stupidity" of
the idea that you should report your neighbors to the police for looking at the creepy surveillance technology around them. This is the first step in making it illegal to debate whether the surveillance state is a good or bad thing.

Perhaps this weekend I will encourage the Ubu audience to report any Woyzeck spectators they catch staring at the surveillance cameras aimed at them ...

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